And without further ado, spanning over 70 chapters, and requiring over a year's length to write, I present to you the end of the ultimate CloTi epic.
People take things for granted...things as easy as names, personalities, dreams. I lost mine once...and I lost a lot more than just my personality. I lost friends, people I cared for.
Some people say that in order to gain something, you have to lose something. It's selfish of me to want to have everything I have and never lose anything...but, I think without the sacrifices of my friends that I wouldn't get to live in such a peaceful– well, relatively peaceful world today. I used to wish I had made the sacrifice in their stead...that I had been the one to pass on, and they had been the ones to live. I realize I can't dwell on that anymore...nor can I dwell on what I could've done to save them. Part of life...part of being human is losing and gaining. I have realized though that even though I have lost so much, I have also gained much more than I could've ever imagined.
Sometimes it's easy to blend into the background. As much as I used to want to be a hero when I was young, I just wish they would all leave me alone. I just want to be normal.
I feel it sometimes...Jenova, Sephiroth...Zack... like a pulse in a sudden expanse of nothing.
If you had told me, years ago, laying beneath a blanket of stars, the sky streaked red by Meteor, that I would find peace I wouldn't have believed you.
If you had told me, years ago, sitting beneath a blanket of stars with Tifa, that I had found love, I wouldn't have believed you.
I mean I was only fifteen.
I don't know why I've been so contemplative lately, but I think it's because I have a grayness in my chest. I don't know what else to call it, and neither do the doctors, and I don't know how long...
I hated gray a few years ago, when it started popping up in my hair. Tifa made fun of me.
I started loving it when it streaked Tifa's hair, and not just because I could pick on her about it. It kills me that I'm starting to hate grayness again.
She's sitting at the kitchen table, flipping slowly through an old photo album. She's been doing that a lot lately.
I lean against the doorframe, staring at her back.
She hasn't changed much over the years...same face, same smile...same Tifa. Her hair still trails to the small of her back in smooth lines, and her eyes still look like rose pedals.
And she still has that sixth sense about me, and she proves it again, turning to catch my eyes. She gives a small smile, used to catching me staring at her over the years, and turns back to the album.
There's a sadness in her eyes. She knows something's wrong even though I've never told her about the grayness. I always figured if a disease presented itself it would be green, like so many other problems in my life. But I can tell it isn't green, it might be a result of the green, but it's gray.
I walk up behind her, sliding my hand onto her shoulder and looking at the album. I see which one it is...the one that includes our wedding, DG memories, Maria's birth, among other assortments of moments with Marlene and Denzel...
Thirty five, and I know she's thinking the same thing.
Tifa grips my hand hard in hers, tipping her head up to look at me. She smiles, but it doesn't really reach her eyes.
"Tell me we'll make it to forty."
I squeeze her hand. "We'll make it to fifty."
A sharp, nervous laugh erupts from her, but it's broken even shorter as Emily bursts into the room, her arms full of boxes and bags.
"Emily!" Tifa looks up, plastering a quick grin on her face.
Luckily Em's too busy trying to get through the door without killing herself to notice the false tinge to it.
"Hey mom, dad–dad! Dad! Dad!" A box tips forward off the pile, flipping end over end.
I jerk forward, faster than I should've, and grasp the box just in my finger tips.
Em smiles. "Thanks, dad."
Tifa turns back to the album, looking back to herself. "Your back, Cloud," she chides.
"Yes, dear." I straighten a bit slower, and Em winks at me.
She deposits the pile on the table beside of Tifa, and Tifa looks at the stuff, prodding it here and there with her fingers.
"What is all this?"
"Decorations," Emily blows her bangs from her eyes, digging through the bags. "Ben's behind me. Zack should be here soon. Aeris will be here in a few hours. She had to finish her dissertation."
"That sounds important," I say.
"It is, dad." Ben comes in the room, carrying more boxes. "Investigating neutron polarizabilities and NN scattering in heavy-baryon chiral perturbation theory."
"What in the world does that mean?" Tifa asks.
Ben shrugs, setting the boxes down. "Dunno...but that's what she kept screaming at me when I called her. It was the only straight answer I got out of her, if you could call it that." Ben glances at Em. "Emi, apparently our sister speaks another language that technically comprises of the language we use." He glances at me. "We got gypped, dad. All the brains wen to Aeris."
"Talk to your mother. I didn't contribute to that field."
Tifa stands quickly, looking at Ben. "You know perfectly well you could've done something like that, Ben. You're just as smart and capable but you spend all your time riding that stupid motorcycle–
"Not this again mom, I'm too old for it–
"Exactly. It's time you settled down and got a real job–
"And I don't know why you broke up with Liz, she was perfectly nice-
"I just worry about you always on the road and doing the stupidest, and most dangerous things ever–
"Mom! Look at who you married–
And then Tifa grew. She perfected this technique in the years she's been a mother. Even though Ben is a good six inches taller than her, he suddenly seems to shrink in Tifa's 5'4'' stature.
"Don't you dare play that card again, young man! I'll have you know that that one," here she viciously points at me, "Knew when to call, and when to be home when I married him, and he learned that six years earlier than you have apparently so I don't really want to hear it!"
Ben sighs, "Sorry mom...I promise I'll call more. I just...I lost my cell phone, and by the time I'd gotten a new one, I broke it..."
Tifa shrinks back down. "You better call more or I'm going to kick the crap out of you, and give your bike to your father."
"That doesn't even sound legal mom. I bought and paid for that on my own."
"Legal? Legal? I'm your mother!" She's growing again. "You answer to a higher law...mine!" She picks up a box and thrusts it into Ben's arm. "Now go decorate."
"I love you."
"I love you too, mom."
Ben moves around her, and out onto the porch.
Em grins at me.
"Good...he's sorry he couldn't make it. Business."
"Amy happy to tag along?"
Em's smile broadens. "You know Amy...as long as she's with her dad she's happy."
I nod, glancing over as Tifa walks out. "I better go talk to your brother," I say lowly.
"Dad...she's looking at albums. What's wrong?"
"Ah...it's nothing, Em."
Em narrows her eyes. "Dad. Really." I think Tifa passed her sixth sense on to our children.
"Emily, please. It's nothing. I'm just going to go talk to your brother."
Emily tilts her head in a very Tifa way. "You know he didn't take any of that seriously. He saw the album."
"Still." She nods her head, and I head out to the back porch.
Ben is putting up white and gold streamers, and jerks his head at the box when he sees me. "Help."
"It's my party."
Ben grins, "And if you want it to happen you should help."
I shrug, grabbing some streamers, not quite sure where to put them.
Ben sighs, shaking his head. "The railing, dad. Loop it around that."
I nod my head. "You know your mother just wants you to be happy."
Ben snorts. "I know...but it really hasn't been as bad as she's making it out to be. What's wrong, dad?"
"Why do you two keep asking that? Nothing's wrong."
"She had the albums out–
"Can't a woman reminisce? It is our wedding anniversary."
"Fine," Ben says curtly. "I'll give you that but–
"Why did you break up with Liz?"
The sudden topic change catches him off guard, and his throat croaks.
"Because," his voice rises several octaves. "Because...it just wasn't..."
I glance at him knowingly. "Ben."
He meets my eyes briefly. "I know dad. I'll call her tomorrow. I just need...time to cool off."
"You can't keep–
"Running away. I know, dad. And I haven't been. I really haven't. It gets...tough. She's just like mom. Completely headstrong, and she won't back down at all–
"Yea, like me. I'm as stubborn as a fucking mule–
"Sorry, I stopped by Cid's earlier this week."
"It'll work out, son." And I can't help myself. I know he hated it, especially once he hit his teens, but I put my hand on the back of his neck, something I've done since he was kid...every time he fell and scraped his knees, or the first time he got his heart broken. "You've just got to learn to slow down."
He nods his head, and I know he's fighting his characteristic shrug out of it, but he doesn't.
The door slides open. "Geez you guys are slow," Em says. "Zack's here."
I nod, moving inside, leaving Ben alone. As I turn to slide the door shut, I think I see him reach for his phone, but I turn away, facing my youngest son.
He nods at me, "Dad."
It's about all he can do, Tifa is fussing over his face, which has a hasty bandage over the cheekbone.
"What did you do, Zack? Oh my goodness, have you put anything on this? When did you get this–
"Aunt Yuffie didn't warn me about the arrows–
"Arrows? Were you in another temple ruin? Haven't you learned? God, I thought the time she forgot to tell you about the falling axes you'd give up on that reliable information. I've told you time and time again that if you're going to search for artifacts, talk to Reeve or Denzel. Much better survival chance."
Zack nods. "I'll keep it in mind."
Zack barely catches the warning glance from Em before Tifa raises her eyebrows.
"Excuse me? In mind? I've only–
"Sorry, mom. Of course. I'll ask all three of them next time."
This promptly shuts up Tifa. "Right. Good. Go help your brother."
I suppress a smirk, catching one on Em's face. Zack has always been infinitely better at calming Tifa down than Ben. He seems to know exactly what to say to cut the lecture short.
As Zack slides the door shut to the porch, I know I hear the words 'The albums, what's wrong?'.
In a rather short amount of time, the three of them have transformed the house, hanging paper lanterns outside, and lighting candles around the house. People start to trickle in, and our house once again turns into a reunion.
Last time was a few months ago, under circumstances no one predicted. Barret died, a heart attack. Marlene hasn't been the same since, she seems a bit more hollow, and thin. Denzel's doing his best, and Cara is really the only thing that can bring her out of her reverie. She seems to be doing a bit better, she's smiling. She's laughing, and I can tell from here Denzel is relieved. We hadn't seen or heard from Vincent in nine years. Yuffie keeps tabs on him or so she says. She says she gets letters from him every now and then, but Vincent was always more, well, distant would be a bit underkill. Vincent always shows up when we need him. He actually showed up about a week before Barret's heart attack... said he didn't know why, but apparently he knew.
Vincent, bringer of death, apparently. I'll keep my eyes on the horizon for him.
The party is a quiet hum, a sudden burst here and there. Yuffie and Reno arrive, causing a bit more commotion, but not much. I give Reno a curt nod that he returns with about as much enthusiasm as a limp noodle.
Then the house explodes.
"I'm here!" Aeris bursts through the door, throwing her arms into the air. A few people scream, Tifa included, and bum rush her, nearly knocking her back out the door.
Aeris laughs, squeezing between people.
Ben laughs. "How's the paper?"
Aeris beams. "Great! If I don't get an award for that heads are going to roll."
Aeris spares a moment to scratch Nanaki behind the ear and share whispered words before squeezing over to me.
"Hey daddy." She reaches up and hugs me tight.
She pulls back holding out a bag. "I have a gift! And I know," she says loudly, over her shoulder. "It's much better than those other heathens."
A chorus of boo's erupt from my children, and Aeris sticks her tongue out at them playfully.
"No, really, dad. I hope you like it."
I nod my head. "I know I will."
Her eyes narrow knowingly, as if picking up something. "Is everything okay, dad?"
"Of course sweetie."
She frowns for a moment, her forehead creasing, and then beams. "I'm going to buy a house once I graduate. I've already got five job offers. Reeve's the one I'm seriously considering, but, he's getting old. Maybe he'll finally retire and leave me in charge."
She grins, flitting off into the crowd, and leaves me holding the bag.
At some point in the night, the alcohol is nearly gone, some of the guests are passed out in various beds and on couches,, the gifts opened, the cake eaten, and my children whispering in a corner about the dreaded picture albums.
I move outside, trying to get air. There's a couple stragglers out on the porch and they all smile, some a little drunkenly, at me. Music is still trilling softly somewhere from a radio. It carries down to the beach where I walk, seeing her sitting in the sand.
'Something in your eyes, makes me want to lose myself
Makes me want to lose myself, in your arms.
There's something in your voice, makes my heart beat fast
Hope this feeling lasts, the rest of my life.'
Tifa doesn't look at me as I sit beside of her. The only thing you can see of the ocean is the white froth of the waves. The only reason I can tell where the sky ends, and sea begins, is because there are no stars in the sea.
I slip my arm around her, and it's only then I notice her shaking slightly. I glance at her as she hastily wipes tears away from her cheeks.
I don't say anything, but she feels it, the unspoken question.
"I can't...I don't...I can't lose you," she says, finally looking at me. "I can't...not after Barret, and...I've always wanted to see more of Vincent, but I know it's stupid but I still know every time I see him my heart is going to jump because I'm going to think I'm going to lose someone...maybe...m-maybe you and I know something is wrong–
"Tifa, nothing is wrong."
"Don't lie to me Cloud." She sits up on her knees, facing me. "Not now, you can't lie to me."
"I would never lie to you."
"Even the kids, Cloud, the kids know something is wrong."
"Only because you think something is wrong."
She grabs my face. "Because there is something wrong."
I look away from her out at the ocean, her fingers slipping over my lips softly, and I hear her sort of sob quietly.
She forces me to look at her again. "Just...tell me it isn't soon."
"Tifa." I look at her. "It isn't soon," I say, because I have no idea how long it is. "I'm not going to leave you. I haven't left you in thirty five years. Why would I now?" She swallows, looking away, and dropping her hands. It's my turn now, so I touch her face, and she looks back at me. "I'm going to be here, until the day you die, and I'll still be here, with you. Even if I die, I'll still be here with you. I could never leave you, Tifa Lockhart."
And she smiles, her eyes softer than I've seen them in a long time, even if they are still sad.
Then she kisses me, and curls up into my arms, fitting into them the way she always has.
'It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong.'
And so ends the Diaries of A Broken Man.
Not the end of the man, however, but of the broken man.
He isn't really broken anymore.
Behold, the longest Author's note in known history (roughly 1500+ words). Good lord in heaven, I never actually thought that this day would come. When I started Diaries I honestly never expected it get as popular as it did, nor for it go for so many freaking chapters! In fact, diaries started out going in a completely different direction. It was actually going to be centered around drama and another story line. I moved that over into Let It Be though, because it didn't matter what my agenda was when I sat down to write these chapters, some humorous quirk would pop up from my fingers. It was a disease. I couldn't stop it. Still, I booted Let It Be back in August or July, because it wasn't going anywhere and I hated it. I still hate it. I spit on you. Anyways, back to topic, Diaries I never expected to go over maybe twenty or thirty chapters, but once again, every bloody time I sat down to write, these little ideas would come into my head. Like, what if Aerith threw a cake in Cloud's face? Or what if Zack made fun of Cloud in his head? Suddenly this story exploded...I think I may have a cult now O_o.
Still, this story by far is and was the absolute most enjoyable to write. I'm glad everyone loved the sarcastic Cloud. This story had no plan once I scratched Let It Be's plot, I just went with the flow. Every now and then an idea would strike me, and I would write down convo's, or just blurbs to remember it, but other than that, I was winging it with this story pretty much. One chapter that was planned was 42. The Way We Are, just cause I wanted to give back to you guys, and these two finally needed to take a big step. I had not planned at all to have Cloud propose so quickly afterwards. I had no idea at the time when he was going to, or how he was going to, I just knew eventually he was going to. Then, 44. Wait For Me came, and I just wrote, and well, that was the result. I didn't know till I was about halfway through the chapter that Cloud was going to propose. It was enthralling.
I knew since from about chapter 50 or so when people began to speak about this story ending that I needed to think of a time, and a way to end it. I decided off the bat that marriage and babies wasn't something I wanted to write about, really. I know I could've probably put Cloud through hell with that, but it wasn't about that. I haven't experienced marriage (And it certainly isn't in the near future) so I didn't want to get something wrong. Ending it with their wedding just seemed right, because I started it with them dating. Then, I decided that I wanted an epilogue from the POV of every AVALANCHE member. Those were a lot of fun to write. Originally I was going to steer clear of DoC, but this gave me a new opportunity; thus Cid's rambunctious ranting(this way it could fit w/ cannon, I suppose...hint hint squeenix, this totally needs to be considered apart of the FFVII compilation XD). I know some of the timing may be a bit off, but I kept it as close as possible.
It took me a really long time, seriously down to the last minute to figure out when and what Cloud was going to say. But that's how Cloud always is, I never know what I'm going to write him doing until I sit down and pound it out. I think that's one of the reasons why I love Cloud's last bit; I don't know why it became a little more, I guess dramatic...I mean, he's an older man, with children, and he's lived a full and satisfying life. That was the main thing to show...so I hope you guys don't hate me for taking the normal antics of Diaries sort of out of the ending...with no slapstick comedy or anything, but this isn't about slapstick comedy (although it DOES have a large part in it) it's about Cloud and Tifa, and their love. So I hope you like this.
Originally Cloud and Tifa were going to have the last two epilogues, but I really wanted Tifa to have the epilogue showing Cloud's dream actually happening...that and I had no clue where to put Red. He found his way with little Aeris. I thought it fit pretty well. Why didn't I keep the spellings the same? I dunno, I think over a while the spelling Aeris has grown on me tremendously. Don't ask, don't know why.
Some of this story is taken from real life experiences, not a lot but some.
Chapter 24. Exploding Banana was actually something my sister did. With a few of her friends, she went to a guy's house that had wronged her and stuck the firecracker in the banana, and put it in his mailbox and lit it. I never heard anything about it after that, but I thought it was pretty original. I hope she got the right mailbox.
Pen Pen in chapter 32. was a reference to my stuffed animal. I have a Patch from 101 Dalmatians my aunt gave me when I was four or five. My sister used to make fun of it because his head started falling off. Don't worry, I sewed his head back on when I was eleven, and he has been intact ever since. Here's to you, Patch, here's to you.
Chapter 33. Pity the lame chocobo was an experience I went through just before Christmas of 2006. Like literally just before Christmas. I ate Chinese food, and got food poisoning or something. I spent every two hours beside the toilet for nearly a day. I fainted once, too. It was painful. I was pissed off mostly because I couldn't enjoy the Christmas feast that much. I was still bitter, and was anxiously waiting for this past year's feast. I made up for it.
Chapter 37. Who loves the World's bitch? Was sort of a tribute to me. I am often the world's bitch. The world hates me. I have come to this conclusion, so I made the world hate Cloud too. It's a love hate relationship, me and him. He only loves me cause I hooked him up with Tifa, but he hates me cause of all the shit I put him through to get to that.
Chapter 40. It's a Skilt was inspired by one of my friend's from high school. He was hot, and he wore kilts. End of story. Cloud needs to wear kilts. Sexy.
Chapter 48. Was a testament to my love for orange sherbert ice cream (ice cream in general is my love), ice cream cakes, whisky, and musicals. I'm easily pleased. Also Cloud's rant in the beginning was once again his reference to being the world's bitch, and coincidentally me being the world's bitch.
Chapter 51. Reverse! Reverse! Was an actual haircut me and my bud discussed. We're crazy. If you're wondering who's talking about Hon Solo in my profile, that's me and him. We're easily entertained.
Epilogue Part B: We call one of our friend's Foofie, but that's because of his curly hair XD
Epilogue Part N. My Grandma told me I was a surprise when I was four or five. I didn't understand it then, but when I got older, I asked my mom "So I wasn't wanted?" She said "We didn't know we wanted you until we had you." Then she fussed at my Grandma. My Grandma vehemently denies ever telling me that...liar. XD
I can never thank all of you enough, I seriously can't. Without you guys, this story would've never gotten as big as it did, so that's why I thank you the readers, the reviewers, the favers, and the alerters for everything you've done. You've made my day, and I hope you continue to read my fics and enjoy this. I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
To anyone who reads this after the story is completed, I want to thank you as well. I'm honored, and flattered that I got so many reviews, and so many faves and alerts.
The view count for the chapters was pretty consistent...though there was a bit of influxes every couple chapters... Chapter 25, for instance (LMAO I seriously think that's the chapter that put this story on the spot) 42 and 44 were a bit more up, but only about 750 for each... Chapter 25 had over 1000 more views than the chapter previous.
I'm sorry I haven't been updating as much lately. I've just graduated from college and am on the job hunt, but I hope this makes up for it.
Huggles for all mah darlings! I love you!
Thank youonce again for making this story so big and so popular, and bringing attention to my name. I do hope one day to publish an original story; I'm working on one right now, and without writing fanfiction I definitely wouldn't have the writing skills that I have now.
Parting is such sweet sorrow, but don't worry, you haven't seen the last of Horky.
Till next time, loves.